Some of us know that today's "best" lists are tomorrow's fish and chip wrapping, but even so I will note a strangely non-contextual collection under the title of Five Best Books: International Crime Fiction, by Geoffrey O'Brien in the WSJ.com (link sent to me by Dave Lull). An alternative link is here if the previous one does not work. The five "best" novels according to the WSJ are:
From Nine to Nine by Leo Perutz, 1918
Tropic Moon by Georges Simenon, 1933
The Fire Engine That Disappeared by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, 1969
The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martínez, 2005
The Water's Edge by Karin Fossum, 2007
I am sure these are all very good novels and all that (Geoffrey O'Brien's article consists of a brief paragraph about each, and that's it, no context or overview), but the "best" translated fiction? No. I have read two of these novels and would not say that they stand out from the rest of their authors' output. I have not read The Oxford Murders but if it is anything like the awful film version that I once saw on a plane, forget it. I may have read Tropic Moon, but if so, I have forgotten.
As I read quite a bit of translated crime fiction (albeit mostly modern) I thought I would write a list of five books I would recommend to anyone unfamiliar with the genre.
While not claiming to be the "best", these novels will provide a good but rather modern and European-centric overview of translated (a.k.a. international) crime fiction, from a range of perspectives. If you enjoy these, I suggest you read all ten of the Sjowall/Wahloo Martin Beck series (not just one of them, as they work much better if read as a whole. Geoffrey O'Brien is quite wrong to repeat the erroneous statement that this series "owed much" to Ed McBain; they were conceived and written independently). Then you can fly solo, aided by the great resource of Euro Crime (mainly, but not entirely, European crime fiction.) Of course, any other person could write a list of five different books, which would be just as good as these.